By Ronan Scott
FRUSTRATION has changed to hope with regards to the return of GAA action this season. That’s the opinion of Donegal defender Eamonn Doherty.
The Letterkenny man has listened to the mood music of late, and he believes that football at both club and county level could be allowed to go ahead, but later in the year.
Doherty said: “If you had asked me a month ago I would have said it was unrealistic that we would see inter-county (action), but I am starting to feel more positive now. Even though it is going to be delayed. They seem that they are trying to make it work, and in a safe environment.”
He expects that club football will come first as he thinks Donegal club football could deal with restrictions.
“I would have thought it will be easier to see club before county,” Doherty said.
“We don’t have many cases of Covid in Donegal, and it is easy to maintain, it is harder to do in bigger city counties.
“It would be lovely to get out to do some club training on July 20 (when clubs are supposed to be allowed to train again).”
The Donegal defender said that the lockdown has afforded him the chance to get to know his team-mates better.
He said that in the early days of the restrictions the county team had coordinated meetings. That has since transformed into informal meet ups on social media where they catch up.
“You are still staying in contact. It is important to keep in touch with fellas. There are fellas that you might think that, just because we train together three or four times a week, we get chatting.
“A lot of time you are going to training. You are in your own head space before training, then in training you don’t get time to chat, then after you are mad to get home. You don’t get chatting.
“You are in a professional mode when training, and you don’t get a chance to chat.
“It’s nice because now you are more conscious of giving lads a call, or a text. You get a chance to chat properly.”
He said that most of those players whom he has been in contact with are doing okay, but that some players are missing football.
“I was chatting to someone recently, I think that there will be a big uptake afterwards, that when restrictions lift boys will appreciate football more, and there might be some that come back to it (to club football).”
Doherty says the biggest challenge for him had been the uncertainty.
“You are trying to keep yourself in a mind-frame where you are going to go back to playing football but not really knowing.”
That uncertainty was a problem during the early days. So Doherty changed his approach and worked on smaller goals, like working on his weight, maintaining muscle mass, and trying to hit running targets.
But those early days were tough.
“I went through a week or two of frustration. When we got the break it was a novelty not having as much training.
“After a fortnight you were itching to get back.”
“I am lucky in that I live in Letterkenny, that there is forest walk not far from me and I can get out for a run. What you miss most is getting out to training.”
Doherty explained a little about what sort of work the Donegal team have been doing in lockdown, and the sort of foresight that the Tir Chonaill management team have in place for them.
“You are trying to do as much as possible. We are lucky that we have good physio, medical and strength and conditioning teams in place. They are doing loads of work with us to make sure that we are satisfied with the amount that we have done, and we are happy that if we do get a chance to go back that the bodies are in a good place to go back to training.”
He said that he is happy with his current level of fitness, and he thinks he’s stuck to a certain standard, though he does accept that it is difficult to measure.
“It’s hard to compare when you are on your own.
“If I was doing a running session at training, I would know where I fit in regards to the team. If I see I am up there with the fellas that I should be up with then I know I am going alright.
“But now you are working on your own, then you are likely to give yourself a bit more recovery time. You might not be going as hard on runs. Motivation is a big thing when you are running on your own.”
So the player is doing his best to stay sharp, but he also revealed that their approach to training has changed slightly as to what it would be in a normal season.
“If it does go back it will be run off very quickly, so you want to be sure that the body is in the right place to handle that.
“You are maybe doing one or two running sessions and you have whatever gym equipment that you were able to get before lockdown. So it is by no means ideal.”
If there is a positive then Doherty said that lockdown has afforded him an opportunity to follow pursuits that he would usually have time for.
“I’ve actually taken up golf, and I am doing a bit of yoga. That is a mental thing. It helps with not being able to get out to train with the lads.”